THOMAS ECCLES

 

If this was not so studiously a "proper" work, Thomas Eccles must induce some sort of a pun of how he "cooked his own bacon."

Around midnight on 6 May 1782 Thomas Eccles broke into the home of Thomas Hind and stole "one flitch of bacon of the value of 20/- and 2 half pack loaves of wheaten bread of the value of 2/-" no doubt to mop up the grease. He was then convicted of the crime at the age of 43 at the Surrey Summer Assizes. After a stint on the hulk Ceres he travelled to the Colony aboard Scarborough.

 

Unfortunately, when he arrived, he was soon back in court. On 6 October 1788 he was accused and convicted of being drunk and stealing vegetables from the garden where he worked. He said that the Captain of Marines, John Shea, had been so impressed with his endeavours that he had given him a tumbler of rum and water together with a slip of fennel and as for the vegetables, well, he had only taken a few radishes and left all the cauliflowers. The Court was clearly not so impressed. He was dismissed from working in the garden and sent, instead, to work in the brickfields. There is no suggestion that his crime was in any way connected to the marriage he had been a witness at two days previously.

 

Within six months of this episode Eccles departed on 22 March 1789 for Norfolk Island. There he gained Philip Gidley King's commendation and recommendation for a pardon. A conditional pardon was granted. A further recommendation was made and finally an absolute pardon was granted on 22 February 1796. From 10 September 1796, he was victualled as a "settler."

 

It is then that his familiarity with pigs again came to the fore when he was listed as a supplier of pork.

30 July 1796 4181b. 6 August 1796 2811b, 17 November 1796 9001b

 

From about 1792 he was living with First Fleeter Elizabeth Bird, who had arrived aboard Lady Penrhyn, on a one-acre lot in Sydney Town and later from October 1796 on a 10-acre lease on Norfolk Island. Together they returned to the mainland by Porpoise on l4 March 1801 where he leased an acre of ground at Parramatta upon which to grow vegetables and, of course, to keep two pigs. There he lived until his death on 2 April 1814 at a reputed age of 96 years.

 

His widow then gained employment in Parramatta as a housekeeper (although recorded as an "old woman" in the 1806 Muster) until her death on 26 July 1858 at the reputed age of 105 years. She is also buried in St John's Cemetery, Parramatta.

 

 

Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters